An Indianapolis-based baby food company has announced plans to expand operations to the West Coast. Café Baby, which opened its first storefront and commercial kitchen on the northeast side of Indy two years ago, says Café Baby West will open this fall in Sacramento. Co-founder Jeannie Marrugo says she was approached by a couple she knew from college who were looking to license the Café Baby brand and recipes to open their own commercial kitchen in California.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Marrugo said having a West Coast location fills an important gap for the young company.
“Right now, we can’t ship our baby food past Missouri because it won’t stay in the box frozen for those shipping zones,” said Marrugo. “The family that reached out to us just happened to be located on the West Coast, which is fantastic because we can’t get Café Baby out there right now.”
Café Baby was founded by Jeannie Marrugo and her mother, Sherri, in 2016 in response to a need for fresh baby food while she was working as an architect.
The company makes a variety of small-batch baby and toddler food, as well as lactation cookies for mothers out of its commercial kitchen and retail store in the Castleton area in Indy.
Marrugo calls the expansion surreal.
“It still hasn’t sunk in, the fact that we’ll be able to give families in Sacramento not only a local option for baby food, but also just a face to put with a brand that is trying to help them through parenthood. So, that means a lot, and then just the fact that we can expand nationwide is just crazy to me.”
Marrugo says Café Baby West will produce, package and distribute the food in a commercial kitchen in Sacramento using Café Baby recipes, standards and procedures. The West Coast location initially will not have a retail component.
“They’re going to start online orders and we can also refer online orders to them as well because we always get asked if we ship out there,” she said. “They’ll start local grocery stores, farmers markets and then eventually get their own store setup.”
Café Baby opened its Indianapolis retail location at the beginning of the pandemic and Marrugo told Inside INdiana Business in early 2021 that its e-commerce sales skyrocketed, which helped keep the company afloat.
Since that time, she says the company has been able to sell some of its products in select grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants in central Indiana. Additionally, the company’s has been able to sell its lactation mix on Amazon Prime.
Marrugo says the Café Baby West operators are currently getting their commercial kitchen ready while awaiting permits from the local health department with the goal of opening in the fall.
Looking forward, she says her goal for the next year is to increase Café Baby’s local brand awareness through partnerships with pediatricians and OB/GYNs in the area.